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| Last Updated:: 18/08/2014

Ousteri lake, Tirunelveli forests declared bird, wildlife sanctuaries

 CHENNAI/VILLUPURAM: The Tamil Nadu government on Monday declared Ousteri Lake and the bio-diversity rich forest areas of Tirunelveli as bird and wildlife sanctuaries, fulfilling the long-pending demands of various sections of people, including ecologists. Chief minister J Jayalalithaamade the announcement on the floor of the assembly on Monday. Ousteri is the 15th bird sanctuary declared by the government. The forest areas falling outside the Kalakkad Mundanthurai wildlife sanctuary will now be declared a sanctuary as well. Tamil Nadu has 14 wildlife sanctuaries, five national parks, 14 bird sanctuaries, four tiger reserves and four elephant reserves. 

The 390-hectare Ousteri Lake, which attracts more than 20,000 migratory birds of 40 rare species from all parts of the world every year, is spread across the Union territory of Puducherry and Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu. Puducherry declared Ousteri Lake as wildlife sanctuary in December 2008 and resolved to promote the lake on the line of Vedanthangal water bird sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. The efforts taken by the Puducherry government to promote the lake since 2008, though minimal, did not yield the desired results as a part of it was located in Tamil Nadu, which did not declare it as a sanctuary. Poaching was rampant and the number of winged visitors came down drastically. 

With Tamil Nadu too declaring it a bird sanctuary, ecologists and birdwatchers have urged the Puducherry and Tamil Nadu governments to work in unison to promote the lake. The Bombay Natural History Society had declared Ousteri as an important bird area of India while the Asian Wetland Bureau declared the lake as one of the 93 significant wetlands in Asia. The Bureau said many birds that are categorized under the 'red list' of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) frequented the water body for breeding.